Picking up where Still Life (Talking) leaves off (instead of throwing listeners a curve ball like Song X), the equally triumphant Letter from Home stresses Brazilian elements with superb results. While a number of these treasures including "Beat 70," "Have You Heard," and "Every Summer Night" are light and accessible enough to have enjoyed exposure on some smooth jazz stations, Letter contains the type of depth and honesty that's sorely lacking in most smooth jazz. Metheny has always known the difference between light and lightweight, and even at his most delicate, he avoids entering "Muzak" territory.
When Metheny celebrates his cerebral side, he usually follows up with something more accessible. After his difficult yet rewarding collaboration with John Scofield, I Can See Your House from Here, Metheny stresses accessibility with this captivating live album. The primary focus is on his Brazilian-influenced material from Still Life (Talking) and Letter from Home, and the very cohesive Pat Metheny Group offers characteristically expressive versions of such favorites as "Have You Heard," "Beat 70," and "Better Days Ahead." While he could have offered a wider variety of material and perhaps revisited some of his early gems, everything that he does include comes across as honest and heartfelt. Thankfully, Metheny's emphasis on accessibility and crowd-pleasing doesn't come at the expense of his artistic integrity.
There's a bit of a role reversal going on with this one. Trumpeter Cuong Vu—a Pat Metheny devotee from the time he first heard the guitarist's Travels (ECM, 1983) as a teenager—eventually came to join the Pat Metheny Group, enhancing the sound of the band on a pair of Grammy-winning albums: Speaking Of Now (Warner Bros. 2002) and The Way Up (Nonesuch, 2005). Now Metheny returns the favor, joining Vu's crew for this expansive outing.
This is a soul-stirring release performed by Pat Metheny and a plethora of friends, all great jazz musicians in their own right. Works II is a compilation of his finest work, spread out from the years 1976 to 1984. This guitarist/composer/bandleader became one of the leading names in the jazz genre during the '70s and '80s. This collection of beautifully written numbers reflects his character of good taste and the unique flavor of his graceful, even-flowing solos. Opening with "Unquity Road," Metheny is joined by the legendary Jaco Pastorius on bass and Bob Moses on drums. The soothing sweeping tones of his guitar blends in charmingly with Moses pulsating percussion and the rousing basslines of Pastorius.